A secret, second market for high-end homes

An off-market deal in this Mission Bay building still netted the sellers 4% over asking: $1.25 million.

Off-market sales have always been a part of the San Francisco marketplace. Some sellers, especially on the higher end, simply prefer the privacy of a so-called “pocket listing” to the exposure of listing on the MLS. But recently, more and more sellers have been passing up the opportunity of marketing their properties to as many potential buyers as possible in favor of a more subdued marketing approach. In fact, according to Vanguard Properties, these off-market deals now make up over a quarter of all sales in San Francisco.

“Off-market sales are on the rise, and there are substantially more this year than in years past,” said Vanguard agent Michael Bellings. “It’s coming to the point where there is such a presence for ‘off-market’ deals that a second market is essentially being created.” Bellings says that most of these properties are selling at the highest end of the market, where sellers are more concerned with knowing who is touring the property (especially when personal items are still in the home) than getting the largest number of buyers through the door.

Bellings adds that just because the properties aren’t getting the full marketing muscle of the MLS, that doesn’t mean that buyers are getting a discounted deal. “Often times the asking price is more of a ‘buy it now’ price when listed off-market,” he explained. “So it’s more about finding a buyer who is willing to pay the desired price, which is typically market value or very close to it.”

For example, Bellings recently represented the buyer in the condo in the slideshow above in an off-market deal. The sellers of the Mission Bay two-bedroom, two-bath had difficult schedules, lived in the unit and had two cats, so they decided they would rather go the off-market route to limit the number of showings they would need to have. They asked $1.2 million for the nearly 1,400-square-foot unit, knowing that they could likely get more if they were willing to stage and move out. Bellings approached the listing agent, who is in his office, and his buyers toured the unit only twice. They offered 4% over the listing price ($1.25 million) and the deal was done, with both parties feeling satisfied that they had gotten a good deal without the aggravation of staging, multiple showings or a bidding war.

And, with San Francisco’s famously limited inventory, there are a lot more high-end buyers out there with money to spend but nothing to buy, as well as sellers who don’t see the point of painting, moving furniture out, staging and sometimes relocating while the house is listed. Bellings says that agents have begun accumulating a stable of buyers and then playing matchmaker with their more private sellers. “When you have a very motivated buyer and hyper-demand combined, you’ll be able to find buyers more easily for your pocket listings,” he said. “With qualified buyers with a lot of money, willing to pay more than anyone, but who don’t want a bidding war, the ‘off-market’ avenues flourish.”

Emily Landes is a writer and editor who is obsessed with all things real estate.

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Marin County: Q1 Results

Inventory expanded solidly in Pacific Union’s Marin County region during the first quarter of 2015, but the extra supply of homes sold quickly – a testament to the pent-up buyer demand throughout the region. Home prices continued to increase throughout the quarter, and virtually all properties that were priced fairly and in desirable neighborhoods received multiple offers. It was not uncommon to see buyers offer all cash and waive contingencies to close a deal quickly.

Mill Valley was a particularly hot market, but sales were strong in all price ranges across the region – particularly for high-end properties. The quarter also saw a significant number of private purchase agreements, reached without homes ever appearing on a local MLS and without competing bids. Such off-market deals can simplify the sales process, but they don’t guarantee the highest possible prices.

Looking Forward: Spring is typically a busy season for real estate, and with a robust regional economy and interest rates still hovering near record lows, the coming months should see exceptional levels of activity in Marin County. Sellers seem to realize that now is an optimal time to put their homes on the market, and buyers will be waiting.

Defining Marin County: Our real estate markets in Marin County include the cities of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon. Sales data in the charts below includes single-family homes in these communities.

Median Sales Price

The median sales price represents the midpoint in the range of all prices paid. It indicates that half the prices paid were higher than this number, and half were lower. It is not the same measure as “average” sales price.

Q1 - Graph 1

Months’ Supply of Inventory

The months’ supply of inventory is a measure of how quickly the current supply of homes would be sold at the current sales rate, assuming no more homes came on the market. In general, an MSI below 4 is considered a seller’s market; between 4 and 6 is a balanced market; and above 6 is a buyer’s market.

Q1 - Graph 2

Average Days on the Market

Average days on the market is a measure that indicates the pace of sales activity. It tracks, on average, the number of days a listing is active until it reaches “pending” status, meaning all contingencies have been removed and both parties are just waiting to close.

Q1 - Graph 3

Percentage of Properties Under Contract

Percentage of properties under contract is a forward-looking indicator of sales activity. It tracks expected home sales before the paperwork is completed and the sale actually closes.

Q1 - Graph 4

Sales Price as a Percentage of Original Price

Measuring the sales price as a percentage of the final list price, which may include price reductions from the original list price, determines the success of a seller in receiving the hoped-for sales amount. It also indicates the level of sales activity in a region.

Q1 - Graph 5

A Closer Look at Marin County

Q1 - Graph 6

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Christie’s @ HEDGE – San Francisco Exhibition of Post-War and Contemporary Art


Christie’s is pleased to partner with HEDGE to present an important exhibition in San Francisco of Post-War and Contemporary Art works which will be offered at auction this spring in New York. The exhibition will include works from the Collection of Ileana Sonnabend and the Estate of Nina Castelli Sundell as well as major works by artists such as Ruth Asawa, Richard Diebenkorn, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha and Wayne Thiebaud.



Source: http://www.christies.com/exhibitions/san-francisco-exhibition-of-post-war-and-contemporary-art-april-2015/?sc_lang=en#about-section

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Join Us Today! 70 Rancheria Road, in Kent Woodlands – Exclusively Offered at $6,300,000


70 Rancheria Road, in Kent Woodlands – Exclusively Offered at $6,300,000

Please join us today for the Broker’s Open: Thursday, April 9th from 11am-2:30pm

Catered Lunch by Stacy Scott

Bring and send your clients!

70 Rancheria Road_Cover Shot_Final

Beautifully situated on a serene and private ± 1.16-acre mesa and located just 15 miles over the Golden Gate Bridge, 70 Rancheria Road is one of the most desirable properties in prestigious Kent Woodlands, offering resort like living, all day sun and breathtaking views of Mount Tamalpais. Substantially rebuilt and expanded in 1996, this well-planned ± 5,868-square-foot home includes five uniquely designed bedrooms and five full and two half baths, as well as a wonderful one bedroom and one bath detached guest cottage. With a cobblestone driveway entrance leading to the residence, the elegantly gated property offers utmost privacy and security, yet sits just minutes away from the highly-acclaimed Kentfield schools, upscale shops and restaurants, and a myriad of hiking and biking trails. Inside, the exquisite home boasts large scale public rooms, an open floor plan and exceptional indoor-outdoor connection, highlighted by a professional chef’s kitchen and family room, with the finest finishes and appointments throughout. The magnificent grounds and pool were created by award-winning landscape architect Scott Colombo.

For Additional Information and Photos, please visit:


1. Kitchen DSC_5008 2. Dining Room DSC_4834 2. Entrance DSC_4956 2. Fam Room DSC_4996 2. Garden DSC_4440  2. Library DSC_4904 2. Liv Room DSC_4830 copy 2. Pool and Garden View DSC_5141 70 Rancheria_Aerial Mt. Tam Cottage DSC_4750

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Just Listed!! 87 Shady Lane in Ross – Exclusively Offered at $2,295,000

Please join us for the:

Broker’s Open: Thursday, March 26th from 11am-2pm

Catered Lunch, Hosted by Bart Welles of Mortgage Services Professionals.

Bring and send your clients!

Open House: Sunday, March 29th from 1-4pm

1. Exterior Back DSC_3611

Located on one of the most coveted streets in Ross, 87 Shady Lane offers one level living with three bedrooms and three baths, open floor plan, great indoor-outdoor connection, beautiful gardens and a pool.  The gated 2,198 square foot residence is perfectly sited on .2373 level acres (per tax record) and enjoys all day sun, convenient access to both Downtown Ross and San Anselmo, the award winning Ross School, the Branson School, Phoenix Lake and a myriad of hiking and biking trails.

For additional photos and information, please visit: www.87ShadyLane.com


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It’s one of the most lucrative matchmaking events on the planet where realtors from 26 countries meet some of the wealthiest people in China. An invitation-only real estate trade show, highlighting elite properties from around the world, was held last December in Shanghai.


But American realtors have the upper hand. Overseas Chinese spent $22 billion buying homes in the U.S. from March 2013 to the same period in 2014. That was up a whopping 72 percent from the year before and California is their most popular market.

“Offers are coming in from Chinese nationals. They’re all cash. They can close in seven days,” Michael Repka, the CEO of DeLeon Realty in Palo Alto, said. 

“There’s no loan contingency, no inspection and no appraisal,” Michi Olson from Alain Pinel Realtorssaid. “We just had one in the East Bay with 53 offers and the property went for $200,000 over the asking price.” 

Olson said the one who bought the East Bay property was from China.

At these trade shows, potential buyers look at videos showcasing homes from the Bay Area. Some buy them sight unseen.

“So they watch these high-end videos that walk people through the property and they a sense both the neighborhood and the house and then they will just wire the money in,” Repka said.

Competition among realtors is stiff. DeLeon’s marketing strategy includes videos and a website in Chinese. They also bought a Mercedes van to take buyers to open houses and have a plane to show Chinese the splendor of the Bay Area. The plane has a lucky Chinese number on its identification markings — an eight, not one but two of them. Local realtors are doing just about everything to get a slice of the Chinese pie.

Realtors are even asking cities to change addresses of homes Chinese are interested in, with the number four. That’s because the number four means “death” in Chinese — a definite no sale.

Hillsborough realtor Stanley Lo, from The Green Banker, has represented Chinese buyers for some two decades. He sells luxury homes that can go for $7 million and include six bedrooms, two dining rooms, a pool and a two-story guest house. The seller is a Chinese who wants a bigger home. So who are his clients?

“It’s a combination of entrepreneurs, businessmen, developers and real estate tycoons,” Lo said. 

Many of the homes they buy remain vacant most of the year. They’re called “ghost houses.” We saw one example that is $9 million property bought by a Chinese family.

“They actually came and purchased the home, but their purpose was only to come here next summer,” Olson said. 

A burgeoning middle class is now looking to invest their money in a safe haven, away from China’s polluted air and political and economic uncertainties. Additionally, in China you never have home ownership.

“In China, it’s a 70-year lease, so there are uncertainties. Nobody knows what’s going to happen 70 years from now right?” said one realtor. 

That’s another good reason to buy American.

Source: http://abc7news.com/realestate/chinas-elite-buy-bay-area-properties-at-record-rate/506609/

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Bay Area Projected to Lead U.S. for Multifamily Housing Income Growth in 2015

Multifamily property owners in major Bay Area regions can expect to see the largest gross effective income gains in the U.S. this year, thanks in part to a robust job market and limited supply, says a new report from Freddie Mac.hundreds

According to the company’s 2015 Multifamily Outlook, gross effective income for multifamily properties in the San Francisco metro area will increase by 4.9 percent this year, the largest projected gains of the top 70 metro areas in the country. The Oakland metro area ranks No. 2 on the list, with multifamily property income expected to grow by 4.2 percent. The San Jose metro area ties for fourth-highest projected multifamily property income gains in the country – 3.9 percent.

Rents in all three metro areas are expected to grow faster this year than their historical averages between 2000 and 2007, according to a chart accompanying the outlook. The Bay Area should also have fewer multifamily vacancies than the projected U.S. average of 4.8 percent. Freddie Mac forecasts 2015’s vacancy rate will be 3.0 percent inSan Francisco and 3.2 percent in Oakland and San Jose.

Freddie Mac identifies Oakland as one of the seven U.S. metro areas hit hardest during the recession and takes a closer look at the factors shaping the region’s multifamily housing market.

Oakland is one of three hardest-hit markets to regain all the jobs lost during the last economic crisis, according to Freddie Mac. Booming economic growth in San Francisco and San Jose will also help fuel demand and keep vacancy rates low.

“Much of the demand for housing in Oakland is coming from the thriving economies of neighboring San Francisco and San Jose,” Freddie Mac wrote. “As residents are being priced out of these Bay Area cities, people are moving to Oakland for more affordable housing. This will keep rent growth elevated and vacancies low, even as new supply comes online.”

Freddie Mac says that multifamily property owners in Oakland can expect rent-price growth to taper off in 2015 as more units reach the market, characterizing current construction activity in the region as “moderate.” The company also notes that San Jose had one of the highest levels of multifamily housing starts in the country in 2014.

Source: http://blog.pacunion.com/freddie-mac-2015-multifamily-outlook/

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JUST LISTED!! 117 Laurel Grove Avenue, Ross – Exclusively Offered at $6,995,000

A premiere, private estate, 117 Laurel Grove is in the middle of everywhere-San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Wine Country, trails, beaches and ski areas-yet occupies a world all its own.

 117 Laurel Grove_Exterior House Shot

South-facing on a green knoll with views of Mt. Tam and Mt. Baldy from almost every room, this unique house offers authentic, classical architectural character updated with contemporary styling and an ideal floor plan.

 Family Room_DDL

On the main level, the front door opens from a protected front porch into a foyer with the living room on the left and to the right, the dining room giving way to a formal butler’s pantry, kitchen and family room. A wide central staircase rises to a generous landing opening onto a master bedroom suite and three other gracefully proportioned bedrooms and baths.

 Kitchen 2_DDL

A sunny third story houses a fifth bedroom and bath, a playroom (or possible sixth bedroom, in-law suite or office), four walk-in closets, and generous additional storage space.


The 1300-square-foot ground floor includes a wine cellar, a library with floor-to-ceiling glassed in bookcases, and a second large-windowed room with impeccably finished built-in shelves and cupboards. This level features three outside entrances and ample adjacent parking with easy access to a separate garage, carport, and gym. Either room could accommodate several workstations or be set up, as now, as a commodious personal library/office and separate entertainment area. Additional storage space, a separate bath, and sound-proofing from the rest of the house afford maximum flexibility for use of this space: home office, teenager retreat, playroom or schoolroom, hobby area and more.

Living Room_DDL

The grounds are stunning, with stone paths, roses, oaks and redwoods and other mature plantings surrounding a 15’x 50′ lap pool set in a level lawn. An orchard, a tree house, a rope swing, and a guest cottage are destinations off the footpaths that wind through gardens planted with boxwood topiaries and parterres as well as lush native species. A private well is used for irrigation.

 Dining Room 2_DDL

This superb, approximately 7,100 square foot home occupies a private, tree-screened world on nearly 1.5 acres, offering a resort-like setting with easy access to…everywhere.

For additional photos and information, please visit: www.117LaurelGroveAvenue.com

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Mortgage Rates Move Up From 21-Month Lows


Erasing a one week dip to a 21-month low, the average rate for a conforming 30-year mortgage increased from 3.59 percent to 3.69 percent but remains 59 basis points below the 4.28 percent average rate at the same time last year.

Averaging 6.7 percent over the past twenty years, the 30-year rate hit all-time low of 3.31 percent in November 2012 and a three-year high of 4.58 percent in August 2013.

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Pacific Union Honored for Unique China Concierge Program

Pacific Union is thrilled to announce that we’ve been honored as “Best San Francisco Bay Area Luxury Real Estate Agency” by Hurun Report, a respected and influential publication that targets high-net-worth individuals in China.

At a Jan. 29 ceremony at the Pudong Ritz Carlton in Shanghai, Pacific Union Vice President of Marketing Jessica Frushtick personally accepted the award from Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf. Also in attendance at the gala were Elizabeth Harrington, North American publisher of Hurun Report, and Pacific Union’s dedicated China Concierge Cathy Li.

Brent Email
Based on the results of Hurun Report’s Chinese Luxury Survey 2015, our firm earned the honor for our China Concierge program, a white-glove initiative that helps homebuyers from China purchase properties throughout Northern California. Through two Mandarin-speaking staff members based in Beijing and Shanghai, Chinese buyers can connect with a Pacific Union real estate professional to identify luxury properties, get advice on financing, learn more about local schools, and obtain immigration assistance.

Pacific Union officially launched its China Concierge program in early 2014, after company CEO Mark A. McLaughlin became inspired by a presentation about the growing impact of Chinese investors on the U.S. real estate market.

McLaughlin – one of just 10 U.S. corporate executives invited to attend an exclusive meeting by former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke in December 2013 – expressed his deep appreciation for the Hurun Report honor and stressed Pacific Union’s commitment to offering Chinese homebuyers the highest level of service.

“I am both humbled and truly grateful for this prestigious honor and our acceptance as a brand by our valued clients in China,” McLaughlin said. “Pacific Union’s entire team of real estate and marketing professionals is dedicated to providing these clients with extraordinary service as they seek to purchase a home in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area region.”

In May of last year, Pacific Union launched both Mandarin and English websites hosted on Chinese servers to better allow clients in the country to access property listings and information. We also offer a Mandarin-language version of our exclusive San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate Outlook 2017, which we unveiled in a live presentation last November.

Over the past year, Pacific Union’s China Concierge program has attracted the attention of prominent media outlets, including San Francisco Business Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, and Bay Area TV station KPIX. Most recently, the initiative was mentioned by radio show The Takeaway, which dedicated an episode to foreign investment in the San Francisco and New York City real estate markets.

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